Sun May 3, 2009 7:50pm BST
The following are some shareholders' comments about Berkshire, the Buffett, Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, the economy and succession plans.
Berkshire's Class "A" shares closed Friday at $92,005. Its Class "B" shares closed Friday at $3,043.95. STEVE COOK, 48, WEB DEVELOPER, ST LOUIS, MISSOURI, 9TH YEAR IN ATTENDANCE, OWNS 26 "B" SHARES
"Buffett is a kind of beacon that you look to for guidance. I think that is why there are more people here this year. He is not an egotistical, overpaid CEO."
"For eight years we flew (here). This year we drove. It used to be $39 each way. This year it was going to be $400 round-trip." CAROLINE ESCOBAR, 15, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT, LONGMONT, COLORADO, FIRST YEAR IN ATTENDANCE, OWNS TWO "B" SHARES
On the annual meeting: "It was a lot different than I expected. There were a lot of people, and it lasted a lot longer than I thought."
On succession plans: "It will probably be good, but it's not the same because they didn't start it and build it up. But you're probably pretty safe having your money with them." CLIFFORD GLASSEL, 68, RETIRED PRODUCT ENGINEER, RED OAK, IOWA, 6TH YEAR IN ATTENDANCE, OWNS ONE "B" SHARE
"If you expect the price of a stock to continuously go up, you're foolish. Even for good companies, when things are bad, people are going to sell because they're thinking it's going to be the end of the world."On succession: "Sooner or later he's going to have to walk away, if for nothing else for health reasons. That will be a time of real terror for a lot of people, and I don't know what I'll do. To me, this is more a case of ownership of a small part of America. If I had 200 'A' shares, I would probably have an entirely different opinion." NICHOLAS KNAPTON, LAWYER & CPA, SPOKANE, WASHINGTON, 2ND YEAR IN ATTENDANCE, OWNS "A AND B" SHARES
On succession: "It's one of the most foolish questions everybody asks. He doesn't make stock recommendations but one recommendation he'll make is that on the day he dies, it's probably a good day to buy. Companies like General Electric (GE.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and Coca-Cola (KO.N: Quote, Profile, Research), 100 years down the line, have high returns on assets and equity. I hope I'm in the position where I have a lot of cash, and when Warren dies, I'll be buying." MANUEL LOPEZ, 35, WORK STUDY TEACHER, BARCELONA, SPAIN, 1ST YEAR IN ATTENDANCE, OWNS 17 "B" SHARES
"We are going through a recession that seems like it's not going away any time soon. Berkshire is such a huge company that it is not going to escape the economy. Buffett is not going to be emotional and start doing crazy things. I'm more concerned about Wells Fargo (WFC.N: Quote, Profile, Research), all the banks he owns. If they go down the toilet, that's going to affect Berkshire."
On succession: "I don't think 35,000 people are going to come if Warren Buffett is not here. But I've read that Bill Gates has made a commitment to stay involved in the company, so he keeps the spirit alive. It's not going to be the same, but as long as he (Buffett) passes along ethics and other things at the company, it should be fine." VICKI ROBERTS, 49, SELLER OF GROUP HEALTH INSURANCE, DALLAS, 2ND YEAR IN ATTENDANCE, OWNS THREE "B" SHARES
"I was here 10 years ago, when we were going through the tech bubble, before it burst. Everyone was asking Warren why he wasn't getting into technology stocks, and his point was, I don't understand it, and I don't get into anything I don't understand. He stood his ground, and did the unpopular thing."
"Whoever replaces them (Buffett and Munger) will still keep that same approach, buying companies that are good value. I can't help but think it would affect me, because I like him. It's true that when the first generation passes, it means change. There may be some change, hopefully not. Berkshire is a really special corporation." EDWARD ROTH, 77, FINANCIAL PLANNER, ARCHBOLD, OHIO, 1ST YEAR IN ATTENDANCE, OWNS 10 "B" SHARES.
"I've been to shareholder meetings where they almost had to call out security, but shareholders had so much empathy with what Warren and Charles are doing through difficult markets. This is really comforting."
"He's (Buffett has) planted the seeds of core values with his management team. He's conscious of having honorable people who can flex their muscles in their own way. If something happens to him, and the market starts selling and depresses the stock price, it would be a wonderful opportunity to buy." GEOFF STARK, 62, DENTIST, ROSEBURG, OREGON, 1ST YEAR IN ATTENDANCE, OWNS ONE "B" SHARE, ATTENDED MEETING WITH SON
"I would want to know a lot more about the succession if I was going to keep the stock after his demise. Buffett is obviously influential on his company, and whether somebody else can duplicate that or not, I don't know. He seems to be the man. He's very important to the company. He is the company." GERALD WETZLER, 70, RETIRED STOCKBROKER, MUNICH, GERMANY, 1ST YEAR IN ATTENDANCE, OWNS FIVE "A" SHARESECONOMY: "He's a little too strong in the financials; he's very impressed with Wells Fargo, but I'm not sure that's a place to be. His getting into the utility business, I'm quite happy with that. Performance of course is not going to be quite like it was in the past, but he has addressed that issue."
On succession: "He said that if the shares dive when he passes away, buy more, and I may. The assets are there." TERRY WILHELM, 42, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY MANAGER, ST. LOUIS, 4TH YEAR IN ATTENDANCE, OWNS "B" SHARES
"The message I hear from Buffett is 'don't panic.' It is good advice. I've told my kids to start (investing) now." (Compiled by Jonathan Stempel and Lilla Zuill)
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